Wrestling with the God of Restoration (Genesis 32:22-32) Part One
Restoration has the connotation of regaining something that is lost, or compensating for a loss. It also means remedying what is damaged; To renew or revitalize.
Looking at the restoration of the exiles in Babylon to their homeland in Judah. And by way of application we can note various areas of our lives where we might need restoration, and believing that God who has no favorites will restore those who seek Him diligently, as He promised.
God has promised to Restore our:
1. Souls (Psa. 23:3);
2. Joy of Salvation (Psa. 51:12);
3. Health (Jer. 30:17);
4. Freedom, Dignity, and Fortunes (Gen. 14:16, 18-20; Joel 2:25).
Today, we want to see another instance of restoration, in this case, the restoration of an individual who is well known to all Bible students.
I. Background to the Restoration in Question
Jacob had taken Esau's birthright by extortion and some years later, stole his blessing by deceiving his blind father, Isaac. Esau planned to kill him but his mother, Rebekah, who inspired the stealing of the blessing in the first place, planned Jacob's escape. She said to him:
43 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice: arise, flee to my brother Laban in
Haran. 44 And stay with him a few days, until your brother's fury turns away,
45 until your brother's anger turns away from you, and he forgets what you have done to him; then I will send and bring you from there. Why should I be bereaved also of you both in one day?" (Gen 27:43-45).
Jacob escaped to Haran and ended up staying, not a few days, but 20 years; his brother's fury did not turn away even after 20 years, for he did not forget what Jacob did to him . And the mother who promised to send and bring him back did not live to fulfill her promise. Such is life when man proposes, but God disposes. Jacob never saw his mother's face again.
II. Back to the Restoration
A. Walking Toward Restoration (Gen. 32:1-4)
In (Gen. 32) we see Jacob walking toward his restoration.
1. The Visit of An Angelic Force: A Divine Providence for Restoration(vv. 1-2; 2 Kings 6:15-17; Psa. 34:7)
God who sees the future as though it were the present sent an angelic force, seeing what awaited Jacob as he walked toward his restoration. God has secret agents that serve His people. The truth of this is made abundantly clear in the Scriptures and the reality of it is seen in lives of God's people.
2 Kings 6:15-17:" 15 And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?" 16 So he answered, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them."17 And Elisha prayed, and said, "LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha."
Psalms 34:7: "The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them."
Heb 1:13-14: 13 "But to which of the angels has He ever said: "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool"? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?"
Jacob did not take advantage of the angelic visitation, but succumbed to fear when he was told of a serious problem looming in the horizon. This was the visit of a human force he could not reckon with.
2. The Visit of an Angry Force: A Human Problem to Restoration (vv. 6, 7)
Jacob's sinful action 20 years earlier was about to present a problem to his restoration:
" 6 Then the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, 'We came to your brother Esau, and he also is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him." 7 So Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people that were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two
companies" (Gen 32:6-7).
The devil may try to bring your painful past to block the restoration God has planned for you. But unlike Jacob, you should permit the word God gave you earlier, to serve as an anchor for your soul and a resistance to the force the enemy is mustering. In case you have forgotten:
Jeremiah 31:20: " Is Ephraim My dear son? Is he a pleasant child? For though I spoke against him, I earnestly remember him still; Therefore, My heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him, says the LORD."
Jacob did not lose it completely; his impending problem and fear drove him to his knees. Some of us will be driven, not to our knee, but to our kith and kin, to a friend, to talk, complain, and cry in search of sympathy. Human sympathy is what it is - - sympathy. It is only divine empathy that we need and we get that on our knees, in the secret place.
"9 Then Jacob said, "O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the LORD who said to me, 'Return to your country and to your family, and I will deal well with you': 10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies. 11 Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children. 12 For You said, 'I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude" (Gen 32:9-12).
B. Wrestling With the God for Restoration (Gen. 32:24-31)
1. The Divine Initiative in Restoration - - "a Man wrestled with him …" (Gen.32:24).
This "Man" turned out to be the LORD God of hosts as we see in
(Hosea 12:3-4): 3 "He took his brother by the heel in the womb, And in his strength he struggled with God. 4 Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed; He wept, and sought favor from Him. He found Him in Bethel, And there He spoke to us-- 5 That is, the LORD God of hosts."
Because God loves you He wants so badly to restore you. He alone knows what you are missing staying away from Him, living below your potential; He alone knows the danger in not being restored. You could become hardened or fall into the hands of wolves in sheep's clothing. So He takes the initiative in the process of your restoration.
2. The Human Involvement (Gen. 32:25, 26) - -
If you want to be restored, you must respond favorably to God when He takes the initiative to "wrestle" with you over your condition. The divine initiative in wrestling is the prompting of the Holy Spirit to pray; wrestling is symbolic of earnest prayer. A song writer puts this divine-human transaction this way: "Every time I feel the Spirit moving in my heart, I will pray."
Recall God's terms for restoration in
(Jer. 29:12-14a): " 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity;"
God will restore anyone who is desperate enough to seek Him with all his/her heart (v. 26). Two things happen to people who get involved with God by way of earnest prayer in the restoration process:
a. God will touch you in the place that will get the desired result (v. 25),
even if it leaves you limping for the rest of your life. You will be better off for it. What is it in your life that God needs to dislocate in order to relocate you in a restored position? For Jacob it was the socket of his hip. For you it may be your tongue, your appetite, your thoughts, your eyes. Let Him touch it!
b. God will restore you as soon as he sees sincerity in you (vv. 27-29) Twenty years earlier Jacob deceived his blind Father Isaac, by claiming to be Esau. "Who are you, my son? Jacob said to his father, 'I am Esau your firstborn" (Gen. 27:18b, 19a).
But now the an all-seeing God asked "What is your name?' He said 'Jacob" (Gen. 32: 27). When you are ready to tell God the truth about yourself, you are on your way to restoration. Listen to what God said to him:
"Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel;….And He blessed him there" (v. 28, 29). What a blessed Restoration!
Jacob's restoration went beyond his expectation. He became a changed man; it was a divine make-over.
Your restoration starts with God's act of mercy and grace in calling your attention to your need for restoration. And this must be followed by your positive response to the divine initiative. No restoration is more meaningful and more dynamic than this!
Change my heart oh God, make it ever true.
Change my heart oh God, may I be like You.
You are the Potter,
I am the clay, Mold me and make me,
This is what I pray.